Characters Appearing: Colossus, Dazzler, Gateway, Havok, Longshot, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Tessa, Wolverine
Uncanny X-Men #245
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #245
Newcomer Rob Liefeld's exaggerated art works really well here for this parody issue, although he looks pretty close to an actual Dominator from the Invasion series.
The story is about a random alien that has assorted a motley bunch of additional random aliens to invade Earth. Liefeld has included a lot of recognizable characters from Star Wars, Alf, ET, Alien, and some less obvious stuff. There's also a Thanagarian (i.e. a Hawkman), appropriate since they were also involved in Invasion. For maximum Where's Waldo, i've split the double page spread into two scans below and i've also put a bigger full scan here. Note also that Rob Liefeld's name is misspelled.
I like how it starts out with the aliens' Archivist looking up the history of Earth and realizing that we're not a safe place to attack.
Something similar was done in Uncanny X-Men #105.
He unfortunately gets disintegrated while trying to warn his boss, though.
Claremont is parodying Invasion, but he parodies Inferno too (or at least my interpretation of it) by giving the aliens a "Jean Bomb" (instead of the Gene Bomb in Invasion), whose mere presence causes bonds to dissolve, brother to slay brother, and companions to tear themselves apart.
Sounds a lot like the way Madelyne Pryor caused a schism between the X-Men and X-Factor to me.
The X-"Men", out on the town to try to ease tensions between them, encounter the aliens, including what look like DC's Khunds...
...and a group of flying aliens that are ashamed to have it revealed that their wings are part of their costumes, not themselves. I assume that's another Thanagarian/Hawkpeople nod.
And in the bottom right, one of the Warlords of Okaara.
Wolverine winds up in a poker match with the "Lord Autarch".
If there aren't enough DC references, there's also a scene that takes place at the Daily Planet.
And just to really muddle things up, the X-Men go to a bar called Munden's, which was the bar in John Ostrander's series Grimjack. And Ostrander is the bartender.
A few moments of seriousness. In the beginning, to show the the schism between Havok and Wolverine (which seems to get resolved during the course of this story), they fight over the use of the Reavers' computer systems.
Note Wolverine's comment that the computers might have been involved in corrupting Madelyne; not sure how much weight should be given to that.
There's also the fact that Colossus is again seemingly stuck in his metal form, to the point where Dazzler has to cover him in makeup so that he can go out on the town. And her own powers are also getting hotter.
The other serious bit is an epilogue at the end, when Tessa discovers that Donald Pierce has escaped from where he's being held since the New Mutants graphic novel, in Kentucky.
A good use of Rob Liefeld, and while it's definitely a silly issue it does some nice character work in terms of addressing the same stir-craziness that the female X-Men dealt with last issue, and it does move some plot points along.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Storm complains to Wolverine about his "frequent absences". The MCP places Punisher War Journal #6-7 and Wolverine #4-16 between X-Men #243 and this issue. Wolverine/Havok: Meltdown and a number of other Wolverine appearances, especially in Marvel Comics Presents, take place between this issue and next, and so does Uncanny X-Man annual #13.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
How did Liefeld get so bad? He could have been a contender!
Posted by: JSfan | September 25, 2014 6:22 PM
Published: June 86???
Posted by: JSfan | September 25, 2014 6:23 PM
JSfan, Dan Green probably deserves a lot of credit here. Rob's still in Art Adams imitator mode at this point. After his popularity surges with New Mutants, Bob Harras let him do whatever he wanted and what he wanted was to be as lazy as possible and just draw cool pin-up shots with no concern for proper anatomy or storytelling.
Posted by: Robert | September 25, 2014 6:44 PM
Fixed the date. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 25, 2014 6:48 PM
I would definitely credit Dan Green for this as well (and I was thinking the same thing when looking at the scan of Ali putting make-up on Peter, that she has a somewhat well-drawn face, sorta resembling a Marc Silvestri picture. Peter looks horrible, as do most of the other characters. One thing that probably helps is that most characters in this story are generic monsters (and rip-offs of DC characters) which Liefeld spun into a career.
I also think the "Jean Bomb" is more of an in-joke by Claremont, parodying "Invasion," the difficulties added to Jean's backstory, and making fun of his own quirks.
I once played a hand of poker with someone who knew about this story and only had a pair of twos, so he wagered his life. I didn't even get the joke until after I'd won.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 25, 2014 7:22 PM
Oh, I can see a lot of Art Adams' influence in Liefeld's work. I've seen some decent work he did when he was 16 there was a lot of potential but like Robert and ChrisW say, he didn't have a good editor to set him straight. Shame, I guess.
Posted by: JSfan | September 25, 2014 7:56 PM
I don't even see the potential. He had some talent for comic book storytelling, and some talent for character design, and the undefinable ability to look "cool," and that's about it. Me and my friends in grade school had more talent for coming up with ideas, characters and stories when we played superhero in the backyard. His character designs quickly became dull and repetitive, his storytelling went out the window, and he was never good enough at either that I really don't know what any editor could have done with him. At least McFarlane started off working in the "Marvel style," doing the journeyman's work in the trenches. Liefeld was getting these high-profile X-assignments as soon as he left DC, and Lee was treated like a star from the start. Even Silvestri became a distant fourth place, fired from "X-Men to make room for Lee, and given "Wolverine" in compensation, and I have to wonder what the hell Bob Harras was thinking? It obviously worked for him, but really, I cannot picture myself as a Marvel editor looking at Liefeld's work and thinking I have anything to teach him. He's never going to learn, and he still hasn't learned anything twenty years later.
I can't complain too much, because it was obviously the direction comics were heading, and who am I to deny Liefeld his place in the spotlight, but I remain baffled by how this happened. Still, "X-Men" #245, best Liefeld comic ever.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 25, 2014 9:56 PM
I was hoping someone would identify the frogman talking about toothpaste in the alien group shot, and the woman next to him. I seem to remember them from something but can't remember what.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 25, 2014 10:08 PM
Ugh, those horrible gaping mouths. Liefeld sucks so bad.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 25, 2014 10:10 PM
fnord, I believe those are a couple of characters from an indie series back then called Normalman. The frog is Max the Magnificent. No idea about the chick's name but it sure looks like her on this cover:
Posted by: Robert | September 25, 2014 10:53 PM
The Jean Bomb was a reference to both Jean and Maddie.
Posted by: Michael | September 25, 2014 11:13 PM
The Jean Bomb was only a reference to Maddie only insofar as Maddie was now established as a Jean-clone, with Phoenix power, who turned brother-against-brother, etc. It's a clever joke for a one-off story, nothing more.
Logan asked Alex about the computers because (a) that was the part of the story used for character development (b) Claremont had plans for Gateway and (presumably) the town left by the Reavers (c) Logan suspects people whether or not he has a reason. I'll have to wait for the "Atlantis Attacks" issues to get what you're talking about there, but I think this is as good as late-era Claremont gets, histrionic arguments about subjects that don't make much sense to the reader, setting up future storylines which never came to pass.
I would very much like to know what changed - from Claremont, editorial or otherwise - that averted Ali's "death" to Rogue. I know that it changed, I just have never heard any reason from anyone involved about why. It's almost like a parody retelling of Phoenix, from a writer who's retold Phoenix countless times. "Whoops, my powers have suddenly increased. Gosh, there's no reason why. Gee, it seems like I'm fated to die here. Wow, someone else died instead. The Life, Death and Rebirth of Jean Grey!"
Posted by: ChrisW | September 25, 2014 11:36 PM
Actually, The Uncanny X-Men Annual #13 has to take place before Rogue is sucked into the Siege Perilous in The Uncanny X-Men #246-247 and the rest of Atlantis Attacks where Storm appears has to take place before Storm gets turned into a child by Nanny in #248.
I believe the problem wasn't that Louise Simonson couldn't follow an "outline", it was that she had plotted out two long story arcs (that must have gotten approved!) where the main group of the New Mutants were meant to be in Asgard and X-Factor was on an alien planet and they were meant to take part in Atlantis Attacks and Acts of Vengeance when both teams returned to Earth.
The main problem was that the ongoing plots overran the months when the bulk of Acts of Vengeance were to take place so she was probably required to include the secondary stories with Rusty & Skids in New Mutants and Loki approaching Apocalypse in X-Factor to tie in with the Acts of Vengeance crossover... But that discussion must wait until those issues roll around.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 25, 2014 11:53 PM
Sorry, my post was in reference to Michael's post where he wrote: "I have to wonder if the problem was that the original outline for X-Factor 38 involved the computer corrupting Maddie but Simonson couldn't follow the outline. As we'll see when you get to the New Mutants Atlantis Attack issue, Simonson's inability to follow the outline caused problems for that crossover."
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | September 25, 2014 11:56 PM
@ChrisW- supposedly, Silvestri suggested the movie storyline in issues 259-260 to Claremont and that convinced him to change it.
Posted by: Michael | September 25, 2014 11:59 PM
Is there any actual citation for that? Because Ali could have done the 'movie storyline' just as easily by going through the Siege Perilous in #247 as she did in #252. Not saying you're wrong or anything, just that it was definitely established that Dazzler was miraculously more powerful, and worried about that, and she was supposed to die in the fight with Master Mold, yet Rogue wound up dying in her place. That much, Claremont has admitted to. Even if it all comes down to a suggestion from Silvestri, that isn't convincing, because Ali still went through the Siege Perilous and Silvestri still got to draw the 'movie storyline.' Is this the most pointless change by the artist on a title that was regularly influenced by artists and had the most important writer in mainstream comics? Is it Bob Harras' fault? Something is wrong about this whole situation.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 1:48 AM
Or #251. They all blur together anyway. Go for it, Ali!
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 2:03 AM
I honestly don't think his work is that bad. Theirs some things that need work on but if he was told to redo them, something a proper editor would do, then he'd have been alright. I actually prefer his style than McFarlanes messy, cartoony, sketchy work. Anyway by now the Artists were running the show and drawing whatever they wanted.
Posted by: JSfan | September 26, 2014 4:48 AM
Robert, thank you! I can't say i've ever read any Normalman related stuff, so i don't know why those two characters look so familiar to me.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 26, 2014 7:58 AM
Oh, and guys, don't sweat how i'm going to handle my temporary cut-off for 1989. I'll figure it out, and whatever i skip now will just get inserted where it belongs after the backissue add.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 26, 2014 8:06 AM
@ChrisW- I found it mentioned here:
Posted by: Michael | September 26, 2014 9:10 AM
#247 certainly looks like it could have been intended for Ali to die-die. The title of the issue is "The Light That Failed," although that could applied just as well to her going through the Siege. The scene where Ali hugs Longshot and comforts him could easily have been scripted as a 'last moment together,' and Ali was still several pages away from even noticing she was carrying the Siege, so that could have been a last-minute change on Claremont's part, depending on how far ahead of Silvestri he was working.
I definitely think the Siege was intended from the start. If nothing else, it's quite prominent on the cover of #247. Covers had to be produced months in advance, and this one is a perfectly good example of what happened in the comic, summarizing page 18-20, Rogue in the Ms. Marvel costume and all. Not to mention Part One of this two-parter opens with Ali staring into the Siege to see all the facets of her life with obvious foreshadowing.
Maybe that was the original point, that whoever goes through the Siege is effectively dead forever, as in, we'll never see Ali ever again, which would explain why all the Reavers who went through it didn't start showing up again. Silvestri's contribution might well have been pointing out that Roma explicitly told the X-Men that whoever went through it was reborn.
I'm skeptical that Ali was supposed to die-die, but maybe that's one of the things that makes this whole last-minute change so frustrating to me. I'm a writer, I'm familiar with characters taking on their own lives and introducing things that I never expected, story elements where it feels at least slightly-dishonest for me to claim full credit. I can accept the last-minute switch of Ali and Rogue, it's just that something about how it was done doesn't smell right.
While writing this post, I actually went to Chris Claremont's website in hopes there would be some "Ask Claremont" function-or-other, but no such luck.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 6:29 PM
Another reason I'm interested in this is because after "Inferno" and two down-time issues, the X-Men collapsed entirely, leading to the long storyline I call "The Shattered Star." This is based on the title for #250, and the fact that #249's splash page says it's "Part 1 of the Prelude to The Shattered Star, starring the Uncanny X-Men." "Part 1 of the Prelude"??? My theory is that Claremont was trying to do a 50-issue storyline leading up to #300, smash the X-Men and then rebuild them.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 6:52 PM
i think that Dazzler's power increase, though, was supposed to play a role in her death. My googling could only turn up this site:
Posted by: Michael | September 26, 2014 7:02 PM
With no precedent or foreshadowing beyond the previous issue or two ["Been noticing that lately... Hope that doesn't turn out as ominous as it sounds"]? As with the Warren Ellis anecdote quoted later, it's too far removed from primary sources and the resulting finished work to seriously believe in. This is a fanboy speculating on third-person retellings, this is a child at prayer. Pathetic!!! [/Loki by Tom Hiddleston]
Claremont had just been through "Inferno" which changed his characters and storylines in ways he never wanted. He was still trying to plot out future developments and had no reason to expect he wouldn't be writing them. Killing Dazzler was intended, switching her for Rogue at the last moment just happened because of the demands of the characters and storyline [which I think definitely worked better, by the way] but until we hear from Claremont, Silvestri or Bob Harras, I'm not going to take anyone else's views on how this happened any more seriously than my own, and I think it was just supposed to be a convenient parody of Dark Phoenix a hundred issues after Claremont had repeatedly retold the Phoenix Saga. Maybe the characters took over [Rogue is wearing Ms. Marvel's outfit, how could he resist that?] maybe he was struck with the story potential of sending all the X-Men through the Siege and eventually bringing them back together and Rogue's a more significant loss than Dazzler, maybe Bob Harras made the decision. Or Marc Silvestri loved drawing Ali and begged so eloquently on the phone that the story was changed.
Unfortunately, we'll never know until Claremont fulfills my "Misery" fantasy, where he has to answer all my questions. [Talk about horrifying, at least the villain in "Misery" understandably wanted further adventures of her favorite character. How much worse would the situation be if you don't want further adventures, you just want good answers about thirty year old stories, when the writer's most likely response would be "I dunno, I was really drunk/stoned/tripping and had to get ten pages scripted in two days because I needed the money"?]
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 9:45 PM
Not that the 'needing money' part would apply to Claremont by this point, but the rest of it... If you asked him now, you'd have to have the issue handy before he had the slightest clue what you were talking about, and *MAYBE* he'd have an idea what he was thinking decades ago.
Posted by: ChrisW | September 26, 2014 10:01 PM
Did any of these alien races pop up later in the Marvel U?
Posted by: cullen | September 28, 2014 1:10 AM
This issue was a welcome bit of humor for me. I had just dropped pretty much all the DC books I was collecting. Their insistence on doing the "event" mini-series with a zillion crossovers had driven me away. I felt ripped off by Millennium and Invasion was just the last straw. So to see it so parodied was pretty amusing.
For another amusing take on Perry White's decision to ignore the alien invasion in Australia, you should read the first chapter of Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, where he explains all the interesting things that happen in Australia and how little we in America pay attention to them.
As for Liefeld - I didn't much like the art here, especially the overly muscular style (to be fair, I also don't much care for JRJ's overly muscular style) - but he actually brought me back to New Mutants when he took over because I had so hated Blevens art that Liefeld there was a burst of fresh air.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 29, 2015 8:43 AM
I know it was meant to be a jokey issue, but Wolverine betting his life doesn't make any sense. Why would the other player want his life? If you can't match the pot on the table, you might throw in your car keys or the deeds of your house, but giving someone permission to murder you? Unless you are playing against Jack the Ripper, I don't see anyone agreeing to that.
If I remember rightly, in the story, Wolverine's opponent feels physically intimidated by his weird bet and chooses to fold, despite holding a full house. That's not cool, Wolvie, not cool at all.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | February 1, 2018 9:15 AM
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